Speech Communication Disorders

Communication skills affect not only learning, but also everyday quality of life. Communicating effectively and effortlessly is a gift that not everyone shares, unfortunately. By helping those who struggle with various speech communication disorders, Speech Language Pathologists, Audiologists and those involved with research provide an invaluable service.

At the School of Education and Human Development, we offer three Speech Communication Disorders degrees taught by high-caliber, collaborative scientists pursuing research to improve language, cognition, literacy, augmented/alternate forms of communication, autism, voice, swallowing and neurogenic communication disorders. The program is accredited by the Council on Academic Accreditation (CAA) of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Our mission includes the education of future clinicians and future researchers.

The School of Education and Human Development Impact

Speech Communication students at the School of Education and Human Development receive a large amount of practical, hands-on education. The program provides clinical services through our Sheila C. Johnson Center, which is a full-service clinic for individuals experiencing difficulty in speaking, hearing, reading, writing, organizing thoughts or even swallowing. Faculty members strive to provide each student with a variety of clinical experiences with populations that are culturally and linguistically diverse.

Students who major in Speech Communication Disorders usually seek to pursue advanced degrees in Speech Language Pathology or Audiology. In addition to the bachelor’s degree in speech communication disorders, the Communication Sciences and Disorders program at UVA offers master’s and doctoral degrees in speech language pathology.


A Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) evaluates and diagnoses speech, language, voice, cognitive-communication and swallowing disorders. An SLP also treats those same disorders among people of all ages ranging from infants to elderly individuals, and also counsels patients and their family members. Often, an SLP works as part of a multidisciplinary treatment team.

Audiology is the study of hearing ability of individuals of all ages, from new born babies to the elderly. An Audiologist administers and interprets screening, assessment, and diagnostic procedures in addition to counseling patients and their families about handling communication situations at home, work, and school to reduce the effects of hearing loss. Audiologists also assess the benefit of amplification devices, such as hearing aids.

Careers in speech communication disorders include jobs in areas such as:

  • Elementary and secondary schools
  • Healthcare and clinical environments
  • Skilled nursing care facilities
  • Hospitals and other clinical settings
  • Community centers and government agencies
  • Research agencies
  • Teaching

Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists are in high demand, and School of Education and Human Development graduates enjoy a 100% job placement rate. Employment of SLPs is projected to grow 21 percent from 2014 to 2024, much faster than the average for all occupations according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Employment of Audiologists is projected to grow 29 percent from 2014 to 2024. Hearing loss increases as people age, so the aging population is likely to increase demand for Audiologists.

Interested in pursuing a career in speech-language pathology? Explore our 4-step guide and learn how you can become a certified Speech-Language Pathologist.

  • Speech Communication Disorders Major

    As an undergraduate Speech Communication Disorders Major, you’ll be introduced to the speech pathology and audiology fields and prepare for graduate studies. You’ll need to complete an accredited graduate program required for an American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) certification, state license, and professional practice.

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  • M.Ed. in Communication Sciences and Disorders

    Our M.Ed. in Communication Sciences and Disorders degree will fully prepare you for an entry-level position. In addition to our academic courses, you’ll gain hands-on clinical practice at the Sheila C. Johnson Center for Human Services and make decisions applying evidence-based practice methods. We offer two program paths, depending on your undergraduate studies. If you’re considering a Ph.D., we also offer a Master’s thesis program option.

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  • Ph.D. in Education - Speech Communication Disorders

    The School of Education and Human Development’s doctoral program will earn you a Ph.D. in Education—Speech Communication Disorders. Pursuing this route will ready you for a career as a teacher, scholar or research scientist. In addition to our academic courses, you will gain clinical research experience at the Sheila C. Johnson Center for Human Services. Our degree typically takes three to four years of full-time study to complete its minimum 78 credits. You need to obtain a graduate teaching internship and complete a dissertation.

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Program Details

  • Message from the Director

    Greetings and welcome to the web pages of the Communication Disorders Program at the University of Virginia. The focus of our program is human communication and disorders of communication that may occur throughout all stages of life.

    This is a web forum for prospective students, current students, and individuals who may have a communication disorder - as well as those who care for them. These pages are meant to provide information and resources for everyone visiting our site. If you do not find what you are looking for, I invite you write to me at lmh3f@virginia.edu.

    Some individuals coming to our pages are experiencing one or another form of difficulty in speaking, listening, reading, writing, organizing thoughts, or even swallowing. Other visitors may be wondering if they are experiencing a disorder in one of these areas. Still others are the loved ones of these individuals and they are seeking professional assistance on their behalf. For all such visitors, I encourage you to contact our UVA Speech Language Hearing Center. The Center is a full-service clinic. Our fully-certified and licensed professional faculty members provide clinical services to individuals of all ages. Please visit the U.Va. Speech-Language-Hearing Center website which includes a Contact Us page. We will be pleased to answer your questions and to schedule an appointment if that is appropriate.

    For individuals exploring grad schools, I invite you to browse through our web pages. You will notice that several pages are designed specifically for prospective students. In them, you should find many of the answers you seek. You may also find the web pages dedicated to our current students to be an informative resource. The documents and links in those pages may provide you a sense for what it means to pursue a graduate education in the Communication Disorders Program at the University of Virginia. Should you choose our Program, you will be joining a productive cadre of bright, motivated, and goal-focused individuals (who are an absolute delight, by the way).

    Our faculty members have established a long history of graduating first-rate speech-language pathologists into the workforce. Our alums go on to successful careers. If you would like to obtain a first-hand sense of our Program, please sign up for one of our Visitation Days.


    LaVae M. Hoffman, Ph.D, CCC-SLP
    Program Director

  • Mission Statement

    The graduate program in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Virginia prepares students for the professional practice of Speech Language Pathology. We provide academic and clinical instruction for establishing the knowledge and skill base necessary for (a) completing the Masters degree, (b) becoming a credentialed speech-language pathologist, and (c) practicing speech-language pathology across a variety of service settings and with culturally and linguistically diverse populations. That knowledge and skill base conforms to the Scope of Practice as defined by the American Speech Language Hearing Association.

  • Strategic Plan Executive Summary
  • Statement Against Racism and Other Forms of Bias and Injustice